Solar Buildings in the 1920s
The orientation of housing ensembles in relationship to the sun position had been an important topic throughout architectural history. While the vast majority of studies have stated that the best orientation of housing is facing the building’s long side toward south, most architects and urban planners of the 1920s preferred the orientation of the building’s long sides to east and west. This paper analyzes why architects of High Modernism, particularly Walter Gropius, Otto Haesler, Ludwig Hilberseimer, and Le Corbusier, decided against a building orientation that had been favored throughout history, including today. It will discuss the modernist arguments for east and west orientation and compare them with those of today’s discourse of south orientation. In conclusion, a 1930 article by Adolf Behne – stating that a strict commitment to only one orientation can never serve the variety of lifestyles – will be used to critique both positions.